The Naked Runaway And The Enrobed Reporter Of Mark 14 And 16: What Is The Author Doing With What He Is Saying? -- By: Abraham Kuruvilla
Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 54:3 (Sep 2011)
Article: The Naked Runaway And The Enrobed Reporter Of Mark 14 And 16: What Is The Author Doing With What He Is Saying?
Author: Abraham Kuruvilla
JETS 54:3 (September 2011) p. 527
The Naked Runaway And The Enrobed Reporter Of Mark 14 And 16: What Is The Author Doing With What He Is Saying?
* Abraham Kuruvilla is associate professor of pastoral ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary, 3909 Swiss Ave., Dallas, TX 75204.
There is no question that Mark 14:51-52 is a major crux of Mark’s Gospel—the account of a “young man” fleeing naked from the scene as Jesus was arrested.1 These verses are “a total enigma,” concluded Morna Hooker. A “bizarre episode,” said Eugene Boring. Francis Moloney called it a “strange passage.” “Confusing” and “unclear,” labeled Robert Stein. “[M]akes no sense as an actual incident,” claimed Robin Scroggs and Kent Groff. “Whimsical,” declared John Knox.2 This degree of interpretive chaos has resulted in an inordinate amount of speculation, inversely proportional to the evangelist’s reticence, as many a scholar and preacher has exercised upon this crux his or her own expository creativity. The reason for these hermeneutical acrobatics is obvious: if 14:51-52 is erased from the account—which apparently is what Matthew and Luke did in their respective Gospels (Matt 26:56-57; Luke 22:54)—what is left actually makes for a seamless reading of a coherent story. 3But, as far as scholarship can tell us, those two verses remain in the canonical version and final form of the Gospel of Mark; and so, preachers have to make some sense of this perplexing text situated in this locus in Mark’s passion. Hence, the proliferation of explanations, particularly dealing with the identity of the “young man” (νεανίσκος) in 14:51-52, who “appears out of nowhere at the wrong place in the story, at the wrong place in the text, like a clown at a funeral, this τις [a certain] young man, this unnamed literary follower following the departure of all followers.”4 Howard Jackson concludes that, “freed of the shackles of narrative coherence and contextual integrity, many
JETS 54:3 (September 2011) p. 528
scholars have proposed that the passage’s purport lies in a tangled skein of various Christological or baptismal allegories, prefigurations, typologies, and symbolisms reaching out far afield. . . . The improbability of these schemes is inherent in their very tortuousness, and, equally, it is at times palpab...
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